Why “Walla, Walla, Walla?”

by Jas on June 20, 2014

“Background Walla is when a group of people are cast to add background dialogue in various scenes. For example, a scene where people are fighting in a bar, or a group of people walking in the city.  The name “Walla” comes from the fact the group used to say “walla, walla, walla, walla” over and over again, which was recorded and then edited into the picture as background murmurings. Walla was also done in live theater productions.” David KitchensADR Saved My Project 

The-Looping-Walla-Group-Juniper-Post Juniper Post The Looping Walla Group The Looping Walla Group The Looping Walla Group Juniper PostFor nearly a decade Alex D’Lerma’s The Looping  Walla Group has been providing ADR services including Looping, Walla and voice overs for both film and television projects. Juniper Post has worked with The Looping Walla Group on such projects as  AmericaJames Cameron’s Expedition BismarckThe Frozen GroundFire with FireBlack Dynamite and many, many more.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Alex D’Lerma what are some of the things filmmakers should inform their Group ADR about prior to arriving at the studio for the session.

1. How many cues do you need to record?
This will help to determine the length of the session, 10 cues typically take about an hour in the studio.

2. What demographics do you need?
E.i. what race, gender, age, etc. does your background walla need to sound like.  This is important information to have so that the right casts are assembled, it doesn’t mean that if you have a scene with kids talking in the background that you need to cast children but it does mean that you need to have actors that can make their voices sound young.

3. What, if any accents are needed? 

4. Is it a period piece?
This is important for your walla group to know ahead of time so that they can be aware of any coloquilisms of the time. The group can research this and then work them into their Walla, which helps give your film an authentic feel.

5. Do the walla scenes require use of specialty terms, for example a hospital, police department, military, etc.

6. Is your show Union or not?
The Looping Walla Group has experienced voice actors for both union and non-union projects.

7. Permission to watch the project with cue sheets from the post production house.
This way the group leader of the Walla group can make notes and direct his group on what is needed, which will save you valuable studio time.

8. A locked down recording date.
I know I put this one last but it is really important. The more lead time you give, the better cast you will have for your Walla session.

All of the above points help ensure your background walla is smooth and thus adds that extra touch that makes your movie sound right.

 “From my perspective as a sound supervisor, a great walla group really adds life to scenes even it’s in a subtle one like a restaurant where there’s light conversation under dinner music.  When it comes to a scene where there are a lot of background actors, a walla group can be even more important, depending on what’s going on, on camera.  Hiring a group of voice actors with no experience to come to the studio and just adds lines can sometime result in a bunch of people standing around burning up studio time wondering what they should say, or worse, they say the wrong things that distract or take away from a scene.” – David Kitchens 

Juniper Post provides Sound Design & Editing, Foley, Voice Over, and Mixing.  To receive a bid for a great sounding mix from the award-winning Juniper Post Sound team, call David Kitchens at (818) 841-1244, ext. 1.


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